“The lifeline of a community:” What Mental Health Advocacy Means To Me

Ellie Glickman, Co-Editor-in-Chief


The traits of mental health, community, and positive friendships lay the foundation for a well-rounded lifestyle. Through Sources of Strength, the HBHA community works to better our support systems. Artwork by Ellie Glickman

According to the CDC’s youth behavior risk survey, 57 percent of teenage girls have reported feeling “persistently sad or hopeless.” I am a young woman who spends everyday hearing and talking with teenage girls. Highschoolers do not need the CDC to tell them something is wrong with their well-being. 

Having numbers echo the feelings of my peers and I is simultaneously validating and haunting. I’m chair of HBHA’s chapter of the national organization Sources of Strength (read Zach Hardy’s article for more explanation), so I spend a lot of time hearing and thinking about these statistics. 

I empathize with the teens who feel this persistent depression, and I look outward for ways we can prevent the people in our community from feeling the same. However, this issue is not the reason I am passionate about mental health advocacy. Through mental wellness actions, we are also able to tackle the issue of community health. 

To me, a healthy community is one of dynamic conversations. Simply bringing mental well-being to the forefront of teachers’ and students’ minds makes our community grow.

One movement I’ve seen in the day-to-day life at HBHA has been the normalization of trigger warnings. In English and history classes, many gruesome topics are discussed. When teachers communicate that graphic contents will be brought up, it helps the students feel safer. It’s easy to measure how many programs an organization creates, whereas it’s harder to know the impact small changes make on the day-to-day.

The Sources of Strength peer leader board is a collection of students from every grade in the high school who work together to better HBHA’s mental health awareness and activism. Photo by Zach Hardy

Over the past school year, I’ve had the privilege to work with HBHA faculty in promoting the well-being of students. Teachers spend their free time checking on students’ stability, teacher’s aids and administration balance ten different roles, and, of course, mental health professionals are a listening ear and strong shoulder to lean on for every person in the building. I am in awe every day of their care. 

Mental health is not an individual journey; it is the lifeline of a community. When conversations of improvement reach deeper than how we can make people “happier,” we can grow together to flourish into a more well-rounded community, starting with mental health.

In Parshat Yitro, Exodus 18:14, Moses’ father-in-law sees the way the Israelites are organized. He says to him, “What is this thing that you are doing to the people? Why do you act alone?” Yitro sees the new nation of Israel and urges Moses to not seclude himself in his work. He challenges Moses by throwing away the status quo, and reorganizing the community to be united. 

The narrative of Moses and Yitro teaches us to look to others for guidance and support. Artwork by Ellie Glickman

Moses’ action was also self-detrimental because he was isolating himself. Prior to this change, Moses was the direct support system for the entire community. This made the Israelites and Moses not receive the attention and care they deserve.

When mental health conversations are restricted to disaster prevention, it is like when Moses faced every issue head-on. Yes, it is vital to give support to these individuals, but we also need to look further and see the environment that creates these feelings of helplessness. 

For those reading this, I hope you know you are not alone. There is a community surrounding and supporting you.